Guide to the Papers of John Fox Burgoyne [MSS 247]

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Manuscript Name Papers of John Fox Burgoyne
Manuscript Number MSS 247
Last Updated August 2021
Extent 9 cm (1 box)
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract About seventy autograph letters signed by General Sir John Fox Burgoyne, GCB, Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Engineers in the Crimea, to his daughter Margaret and her husband the Honourable George Wrottesley, together with memoranda, copies of further letters and other enclosures sent by Burgoyne and a later copy of Lord Lucan's order at the charge at Balaclava. These letters supplement those published by Burgoyne's son-in-law George Wrottesley in Life and correspondence of Field Marshal Sir John Burgoyne, bart (1873). There is also a small amount of Wrottesley family correspondence, and drafts of poetry by Anne Wrottesley.


The collection has been arranged in box then folder order.

Date Range of Content


Biographical Note

Field Marshall Sir John Fox Burgoyne, 1st Baronet GCB, was a senior British Army Officer. He was born on the 24 July 1782. He was the illegitimate son of General John Burgoyne and opera singer Susan Caulfield. He was educated at Eton and Woolwich, obtained his commission in 1798 and was gazetted to the Royal Engineers.

In April 1800 he was ordered to join Sir Ralph Abercromby's army in the Mediterranean. He was promoted First Lieutenant in July 1800. In 1805, when serving on the staff of General Fox in Sicily, he was promoted Second Captain. He was sent as commanding engineer with General Mackenzie Fraser's force to Egypt in February 1807, and was with Sir John Moore in Sweden in 1808 and in Portugal in 1808-1809. In the Corunna campaign Burgoyne held the position of Chief of Engineers with the rear-guard of the British Army. He was with Wellesley at the Douro in 1809, and was promoted Captain in the same year, after which he was engaged in the construction of the lines of Torres Vedras in 1810. He blew up Fort Concepcion on the river Turones, and was present at Busaco and Torres Vedras. In 1811 he was employed in the unsuccessful siege of Badajoz, and in 1812 he won successively the brevets of Major and Lieutenant-Colonel, for his skilful performance of engineer duties at the historic sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. He was present in the same year (1812) at the siege and battle of Salamanca, and after the battle of Vittoria in 1813 he became Commanding Engineer on Lord Wellington's staff. At the close of the war he received the CB for his various services. He was sent to America as Commanding Royal Engineer and served at New Orleans and at the reduction of Fort Bowyer.

Burgoyne was largely employed, during the long peace which followed Waterloo, in other public duties as well as military work. He commanded the Royal Engineers in the Army of occupation in France from 1815 to 1818, at Chatham from 1821 to 1826, with Sir William Clinton's force in Portugal in 1826, and at Portsmouth from 1828 to 1831. In 1831 he was offered by Mr. Stanley, then Irish secretary, the chairmanship of the Irish Board of Public Works, which he held for fifteen years. In 1838 he was promoted to Major-General and received a KCB In 1845 he was appointed Inspector-General of Fortifications, which he held for twenty three years. In 1851 he was promoted Lieutenant-General, and in 1852 received a GCB

In 1853 he was sent to Turkey to examine the ground before the coming war. He accompanied Lord Raglan's headquarters to the East, superintended the disembarkation of the army on the Crimean Peninsula, and was in effect the principal engineer adviser to the English commander during the first part of the siege of Sevastopol. In November 1854 he was appointed a Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Engineers, and was recalled in February 1855, and though he was at first bitterly criticised by the public for his part in the earlier and unsuccessful operations against the fortress the wisdom of his advice was ultimately recognised.

In 1856 he was made a baronet, created a grand officer of the Legion of Honour, and a Knight of the first class of the order of the Medjidie, and gazetted a full General, presented with the freedom of the city of London, and received the honorary degree of D.C.L. from the University of Oxford. In 1858 he was present at the second interment of Napoleon I as Queen Victoria's representative, and in 1865 he was made Constable of the Tower of London. In 1868, on resigning his post as Inspector-General of Fortifications, he was made a Field Marshal. Parliament granted him, at the same time, a pension of £1500 a year. He died on the 7th of October 1871, a year after the tragic death of his only son, Captain Hugh Talbot Burgoyne, V.C. (1833-1870), who was in command of H.M.S. Captain when that vessel went down in the Bay of Biscay on September 7, 1870.

The dictionary of national biography : from the earliest times to 1900, edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, Oxford University Press, London, 1921-1922, vol. 3, p. 342-344.

Administrative Information


The collection is available for research.

Restrictions on Use

No copying is permitted without the permission of the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

[Manuscript Item], Papers of Sir John Fox Burgoyne, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 247, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


The collection was purchased from Julian Browning Rare Books and Manuscripts in March 1985.

Access Terms

Personal Names

Burgoyne, John Fox, Sir, 1782-1871

Topical Subjects

Crimean War, 1853-1856 -- Personal narratives, English

Generals -- Great Britain -- Correspondence


Army officers

Container List

Box 1

Folder 1
Crimean correspondence of General Sir John Burgoyne, 4 September to 31 December 1854

Letters to George and Margaret Wrottesley
Copy of a memorandum to Lord Raglan, 21 September 1854 from Camp on the Alma
Letter together with a leather button taken off the great coat of a Russian soldier on the Inkerman field
Photocopies and transcripts of the letters

Folder 2
Crimean correspondence of General Sir John Burgoyne, 1 January to 30 March 1855

Letters to George and Margaret Wrottesley
Letter to Wrottesley from Geo Stopford, 4 January [1855]
Memorandum on a sum of field allowance, 19 January 1855
Letter to My dear General from [Egerton?] regarding the soldiers and the Sabbath, 11 February 1855
Letter to My Dear Sir John regarding soldiers and the Sabbath, undated
Letter to My dear General regarding soldiers and the Sabbath, 12 February 1855
Confidential letter regarding General ? and soldiers and the Sabbath, 14 February 1855
Two sketch maps
Meteorological table of climate, 1854
1868 copy of order given by Lord Raglan to Lord Lucan stating that 'Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy, and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop of Horse artillery may accompany. French cavalry is on your left. Immediate.'
Photocopies and transcripts of the letters

Folder 3
Family correspondence from Anne and Pauline Wrottesley and Geo Butler, together with transcripts, 1852-1901

Folder 4
Manuscript drafts of poetry by Anne Wrottesley, together with transcripts, 1838-1851